COA: Charge PCOO execs over P38-M ‘deficient’ Asean 2017 expenses
State auditors have recommended the filing of charges against officials of Malacañang’s communications department over the P38 million worth of “deficient” disbursements for the 2017 Asean Summit held in the country.
In its 2017 audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for its purchases of goods and services worth P27,503,535.40, and van rentals worth P7,264,450.
The COA also questioned the rental of IT equipment amounting to P4,039,140, stressing that the PCOO could have saved money if it just bought the equipment. The rental was “more expensive” than the selling price by P964,872, auditors noted.
Splitting of contracts
A total of P14,587,182.40 for the procurement of delicacy bags, handmade soaps, medical kits, umbrellas, shirts, and Asean jackets was split into 19 purchase orders and were distributed among four suppliers.
For procurement of printed materials, a total of P8,510,700 was disbursed for 12 purchase orders and were awarded between two suppliers.
The PCOO also split a total of P4,405,653 worth of procurement of WiFi internet access into seven purchase orders and were awarded between two suppliers.
The splitting of purchase orders, the COA said, deprived the PCOO of taking advantage of possible bulk discounts “if the procurements were done through public bidding.”
PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar, according to COA, ordered an investigation on whether or not the Government Procurement Act was violated in the rental of IT equipment and vans.
The PCOO management also asserted that “no splitting of contracts happened,” explaining that each purchase order was intended for separate transaction needs and specific Asean-related events.
But the COA said the purchase orders were prepared on the same date or about the same time, from the same and or different suppliers, in violation of COA Circular No. 76-41.
The circular states that, “Splitting, in its literal sense, means dividing or breaking up into separate parts or portions, or an act resulting in a fissure, rupture, breach. Within the sphere of government procurement, splitting is associated with requisitions, purchase orders, deliveries, and payments.”
The COA, citing the Government Procurement Act, said it prohibits “splitting of contracts which exceed procedural purchase limits to avoid competitive bidding or to circumvent the limits of approving or procurement authority.”
Rental of IT equipment
The COA pointed out that the government could have saved a total of P964,872.00 if the IT equipment used during the 2017 Asean Summit event were purchased at a total cost of P3,074,268.00. The PCOO rented/leased the IT equipment for P4,039,140.00.
“Moreover, additional savings would have been secured, considering that no further acquisition by the agency of similar equipment is necessary, if same had already been procured,” the COA said.
The PCOO’s management explained that they were “constrained by the budget” to perform “Asean 2017-related functions.”
“No budget was allotted for Capital Outlay. Without realignment, the PCOO cannot purchase any equipment; thus, was compelled to lease equipment to address specific IT-related requirements for ASEAN events,” the COA said, quoting the PCOO.
“The assertion of COA that the government could have saved if “the [PCOO] chose to purchase IT equipment” is unfair demand because the PCOO did not have the choice to purchase in the first place,” the PCOO added.
Investigate, file appropriate charges
However, the COA said the PCOO management should investigate the award of contracts to suppliers without adherence to the provisions of the revised Implementing Rules and Regulations under the Government Procurement Act.
The COA also recommended the filing of appropriate charges against any erring officials “for taking particular action that favored a particular supplier or suppliers, when necessary.” /kga
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